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The View from the May Meeting

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Carlene Sippola


The View from the May Meeting

Our May board meetings have certain special characteristics. The staff and board members are up to their necks in planning for the Publishing University and BEA. We are getting ready to say good-bye to outgoing board members and to welcome new ones. We spend time reflecting on how the fiscal year that’s ending has gone, and we eagerly discuss the new strategic plan for the coming year.

At this year’s May meeting, Florrie, Terry, and Lisa reported on final plans for Pub U, the Benjamin Franklin Awards, and IBPA’s exhibit at BEA 2011, noting that many board members were to be speakers at Pub U and that some had been helping organize the event.

We said our good-byes to four incredible board members—Jeanne Kramer of National Book Network, Nancy Stewart of Ingram Book Company, Mitch Muncy of The Alexander Hamilton Society, and Danny Snow of Unlimited Publishing, LLC. They represent a cross-section of the publishing world, and each offered a wealth of expertise.

One of the strengths of the IBPA board is its diversity. We require a mix of publishers and nonpublishers on the board. This has proven to be the best way to understand and, therefore, to meet the needs of the diverse publishing community. I know I can speak for the board and the IBPA staff in saying a huge thank-you to our outgoing board members. You will be missed.

Looking Back

I want to take a moment to reflect on our past year. As many of you know, the economic turndown took its toll on our membership numbers, and our 2009–2010 fiscal year was a recovery year. But there’s good news: We started this past fiscal year in celebration. The IBPA staff had made changes in our day-to-day operations that were necessary for adjusting to our new normal. We moved ahead with optimism and a clear strategic plan in place.

The board focused much of its work this year on helping the staff with membership renewal and membership recruitment. And the staff revamped the way we communicate with people whose membership is about to expire, because sometimes the problem is not that members don’t want to renew; it’s that they forget.

We also worked to improve what we offer our members through marketing programs, vendor benefits, education, networking, and advocacy. You can check out new programs and benefits at ibpa-online.org.

We still have work to do on member retention and recruitment, so please spread the word about IBPA.

Looking Ahead

I am personally very excited about the plans for the coming year. The staff and the board will continue to strengthen the programs we provide for you and introduce some new ones, including:

• a four-color version of our most popular benefit—the Independent

• our two-phase mentoring program

• new Benjamin Franklin E-Book Awards

• the first annual Publishing Retreat–West

With these new programs and more, IBPA will continue to work hard on your behalf.

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

I want to take this opportunity to say how privileged I have been to serve on the IBPA board for four years (2004–2008) and to serve as the board chair for the past two years. I love IBPA. I’ve been a member for more than 25 years and have received so much practical advice and education from the organization.

But, by far, the #1 benefit for me has been connecting with other members. Everything from a long-term mentor relationship through brief conversations at Pub U has enriched my personal and professional life.

Finally, I want to thank the folks who make IBPA work.

Thanks to the Independent’s editor, Judith Appelbaum, and all contributors to the Independent. Every month we are privileged to read words of wisdom that help us in our publishing endeavors.

Thanks to the board of directors who willingly give so much of their time and expertise to improve all aspects of IBPA.

Thanks to Terry, Lisa, and their staff, who keep IBPA running like a well-oiled machine. Their dedication is far beyond what anyone could expect.

Thanks to Florrie for leading us with her vast knowledge of the publishing industry, compassion, and unending energy.

Last but not least, thanks to you, the members of IBPA. I appreciate your dedication and contributions to an organization that truly supports independent publishing.

Although I’m leaving my role as board chair, I’m not leaving the IBPA family. I will continue to be involved in many ways, and I’m so pleased to welcome Steve Mettee as the new board chair. I’ve worked with Steve on the board for the past two years and admire him greatly. He is a strong leader and passionate about our organization.

I want to leave you with a statement by Cass Canfield, one of the most influential publishers of the twentieth century. He said, “I’m a publisher—a hybrid creature: one part stargazer, one part gambler, one part businessman, one part midwife and three parts optimist.”

I wish you the best in your publishing adventures.



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